Menil Drawing Institute Opens in Houston

The Menil Drawing Institute, the $40 million addition to the Menil Collection’s campus in Houston, opened on Saturday, November 3 with an exhibition dedicated to works on paper by Jasper Johns. “The Condition of Being Here: Drawings by Jasper Johns” features forty-one drawings made in graphite, ink, charcoal, and watercolor, among other materials, that span fifty years of Johns’s career, from 1954 to 2016. A six-volume catalogue about the artist will also be published by the Menil Collection later this month.

Established in 2008 to further the study, conservation, and exhibition of modern and contemporary drawings, the institute tapped the Los Angeles–based firm Johnston Marklee in 2012 to build its new 30,146-square-foot home and organized traveling exhibitions, including “Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective” (2012) and “Lee Bontecou: Drawn Worlds” (2014), as plans for the new facility came together.

Composed of a series of buildings and courtyards unified by a white steel-plate roof, the institute is the fifth building to join the Menil Collection’s grounds. It is situated among the main museum building, the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, the Cy Twombly Gallery, the Dan Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall, and the independent Rothko Chapel.

The new facility was originally slated to open one year earlier but did not meet its deadline because of construction delays. When asked about the holdup, executive director Rebecca Rabinow told the Houston Chronicle that she had “zero regrets.” She said: “I’m very proud of this board of trustees, that they agreed to slightly delay the opening in order to take the time to get everything right. Because when you walk into this building, it shows.”